Canada and BC violate UN “injunction” while lawful protesters arrested and threatened with armed force | Press release

Comply with international law obligations says LRWC

“Those of us who practice law in safe environments such as Canada owe a duty to those who risk not only their freedom but also their lives in order to protect their clients’ rights.” Gail Davidson, LRWC Founder

12 February 2020 – While peaceful protesters are arrested from coast to coast, Canada’s Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau calls the blockades in support of Wet’suwet’en land rights defenders illegal, citing the Railway Safety Act. He fails to mention that actions of the governments of Canada and British Columbia and the use and threatened use of force by the RCMP are themselves in violation of Canada’s binding international law obligations and therefore ”illegal.” The protesters, on the other hand, are exercising their legal rights to peacefully and strongly object to serious violations of the rights of  the Wet’suwet’en.

On 13 December 2019 a United Nations (UN) treaty monitoring body called on Canada to “halt construction…of the Coastal Gas Link pipeline in the traditional and unceded lands of the Wet’suwet’en people,” “immediately cease forced eviction of…Wet’suwet’en peoples,” “guarantee that no force will be used against…Wet’suwet’en,” and ensure that “the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and associated security and policing services will be withdrawn from their traditional lands.” The UN body also called on Canada (which includes BC) to “prohibit the use of lethal weapons, notably by the [RCMP] against indigenous peoples.”

After years of Canada’s failure to comply with recommendations of the UN Committee to End Racial Discrimination regarding the rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly in BC, the Committee issued its December decision urging Canada to incorporate free, prior and informed consent into domestic legislation and seek technical advice from the UN.

Instead, Canada, while seeking a seat on the UN Security Council, is ignoring this urgent UN decision and is again directing and allowing the use of force to seize unceded traditional lands, evict Indigenous people from their lands, and deprive protesters and land defenders of their fundamental rights to liberty and to engage in peaceful protests.

Protesters across Canada are objecting to the repetition of the original colonial seizures of Indigenous lands and the accompanying trampling of indigenous people’s inherent rights to liberty, livelihood, and dignity. The grave consequences of this historic land grabbing and associated injustices persist to this day.

Now, in 2020, Canada and BC cite “the rule of law” as supporting enforcement of laws and decisions that purport to override international laws that protect the rights of both Indigenous Peoples and protesters. These international human rights laws have been binding on Canada and BC for more than half a century.

The RCMP arrests protesters and deprives them of their liberty for alleged violations of a civil injunction of the BC Supreme Court in favour of a corporation while Canada and BC violate the UN ”injunction” with impunity. These actions by Canada, BC and the RCMP are contrary to the rule of law upon which the protesters and land defenders insist. SOURCE




Civil rights groups want to challenge Quebec religious symbols ban in Supreme Court

Muslims to contest religious law at Canada’s top court

Civil rights groups challenging Quebec’s controversial ban on religious symbols want to take their case to Canada’s top court.

Quebec’s Court of Appeal last week rejected a request to suspend portions of the law, known as Bill 21, pending a ruling on its constitutionality.

In a statement Wednesday, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, along with plaintiff Ichrak Nourel Hak, said they will seek permission to appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada.

“We told Quebecers and Canadians that we would not stop our work until this unjust law has been defeated,” said Mustafa Farooq, executive director of the NCCM.

“While teachers and other public sector workers are being forced out of their jobs, we will seek leave from the SCC to halt the serious and irreparable harm that Bill 21 causes.”

In a 2-1 decision, the appeals court said last Thursday the law should be allowed to stand until the challenges are heard in Quebec Superior Court.

All three justices, however, said there is evidence the law is causing harm to Quebecers who wear religious symbols.

The law is being challenged in four separate lawsuits, three of which are expected to be heard together in October 2020.

It bans public school teachers, government lawyers and police officers, among other civil servants, from wearing religious symbols at work.

Premier François Legault has argued the law protects secularism in Quebec and will put an end to long-running debates about how to accommodate minority cultural practices.

Legault has repeatedly told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stay out of the legal battle.

“I can understand that he’s against Bill 21, but I’m asking him to respect a decision that has been taken by a majority of Quebecers, by a nation,” he said last week.

Trudeau hasn’t ruled out the possibility of federal intervention in the case but has so far stayed on the sidelines. SOURCE


Muslims to contest religious law at Canada’s top court
Rights groups want to take Bill 21 to Supreme Court after ‘harsh blow’

Nova Scotia, B.C. groups pair up on court challenge to overturn Canada’s electoral system

A sign points voters to the polling station at St. James Anglican Church on Joseph Howe Drive in Halifax on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019.
A sign points voters to the polling station at St. James Anglican Church on Joseph Howe Drive in Halifax on federal election day, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. – Ryan Taplin

OTTAWA, Ont. — A Nova Scotia charitable organization wants the courts to force Canada to abandon its winner-take-all electoral system in favour of one that awards seats in Parliament according to the popular vote.

Halifax-based Springtide Collective and Fair Voting B.C. filed an action with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto earlier this month arguing that Canada’s first-past-the-post system violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ guarantee of fair representation.

Springtide executive director Mark Coffin said the case has been in the works since 2017. By August of 2019 the groups had raised enough money to cover the costs of preparing a court application and securing expert testimony.

“This is a civil rights issue like any other civil rights issue. It’s always best when politicians take steps in lawmaking that would protect and enhance our civil rights, but when we don’t get that from our politicians, and in this case, when we see time and time again politicians really not enthusiastically supporting or championing reform to ensure that everybody’s votes count, it’s time for the courts to intervene,” Coffin said.

Coffin added there’s a pattern of behaviour where campaign on electoral reform, then back off when elected. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals promised that 2015 would be the last election under first-past-the-post, but abandoned the idea of electoral reform a year later.

The applicants hope the courts will now take the issue into their own hands.

The case alleges that Canada’s current electoral system does not comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as subsequent rulings on electoral issues, on multiple grounds. Specifically, the application argues that it violates section 3, by denying Canadians effective representation, meaningful participation, and fair and legitimate elections, and section 15, by discriminating against voters and candidates on the basis of political belief.

“The court has in past rulings decided that every Canadian has the right to effective representation and meaningful participation,” Coffin said. “For many Canadians based on their political beliefs, they’re denied effective representation and meaningful participation in the electoral process. . . .Effective representation in the courts means having a voice in the deliberations of government. When more than half of the people vote for candidates that don’t end up in parliament, they’re certainly not represented.”

This election makes the case, the groups argue: 51 per cent of voters cast ballots for candidates that did not end up in Parliament, there were a quarter-million more Conservative voters than Liberal voters but Liberals took 36 more seats than the Conservatives, and NDP voters outnumbered Bloc voters by two to one nationally, yet the NDP will hold fewer seats than the Bloc. Furthermore, they argue, the disproportionate representation of certain political beliefs are concentrated in different regions of the country in ways that are now adding fuel to the fire around national unity.

The two groups involved in the court challenge have hired experienced Toronto-based constitutional lawyer Nicolas Rouleau to represent them. They’re hoping the case will eventually find its way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

If the courts agree with the claims made in the case, they can go as far as to declare Canada’s current electoral system unconstitutional, and order the government to develop a system that complies with the Charter, the applicants say. SOURCE

Paul Andersen: Climate is the Civil Rights of today

Childrens Crusade
In the year 1212, tens of thousands children, put down their ploughs, carts, the flocks they tended, claiming it be God’s will, and joined the Children’s Crusade to the Holy Land.

Greta Thunberg’s youthful innocence while protesting environmental degradations is akin to the innocent faces of the Children’s Crusades from the Middle Ages. How pure and desperate are these missions of youth.

Greta’s cohort of young, worldwide climate activists has swelled into the millions, rising up in a challenge against ecocide in the same way the Civil Rights movement challenged the status quo of racial tension that continues to embroil America.

When Martin Luther King wrote his famous “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” he brought to bear the moral and ethical underpinnings of Western civilization, in particular decrying the “white moderates” who understood the gravity of racism but failed to act.

Image result for martin luther king birmingham jail

“History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily,” impugned King. “Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups are more immoral than individuals.”

So it is that Greta challenges today’s environmental moderates who recognize ecological threats but fail to act, resulting in threats to the dreams of future generations. Thunberg’s soft, piping voice is as much a clarion call as MLK’s sonorous baritone in defending basic human rights in the face of social disregard for an imperiled future.

MLK recommended four steps for activism: 1) Collection of the facts. 2) Negotiation. 3) Self-purification. 4) Direct Action.

Greta and her peers have checked off the first three and are now engaged in direct action. Hopefully, with the moral authority of youth, they can effectively change hearts and minds.  MORE